Eddy’s Turkey Trip Continues

Monday Meeting

As we thought might be the case last week, the flight back from Turkey (where Eddy and the rest of CCP went for their massive and fun company retreat) was exhausting, and boy are Eddy’s arms tired!

Also, as an FYI: this site: www.theonyxpath.com will be down for a couple of days for routine maintenance- we’ll be tweaking a few things as well as prepping for a new Big Announcement.

So this week, how about I jot down a few thoughts about how Kickstarter fits into our publishing plans at Onyx Path Publishing?

I’m imagining most of you have already read my previous notes on how Kickstarter has become a vital part of Onyx Path‘s business model: how the ability to use KS to directly communicate with the community fits into our Open Dev Process goals of having a dialogue with those fans who want to have one, and enables us to create traditionally printed high quality books even while we keep the infinite bookshelf of DTRPG stocked with PDFs and the physical books produced by Print on Demand. That’s the general “value proposition” of Onyx using KS or other crowd-funding methods, but what I want to go into today is a little more of the nuts and bolts.

To begin with, we have to start with the idea that Kickstarter is still a wild frontier. To paraphrase Greg Stolze, it’s a wild jungle still and KS creators are still hacking their way through with machetes. One truth is that every KS is different, and what works for one KS doesn’t necessarily work for another, either internally with such things as logistics of creation and delivery, or externally as towards what various fans would like the KS to feature. There is no perfect KS campaign that can then be the model for all KS’s everywhere. And as I say in the text of every KS we’ve done: we’re still experimenting with our KSs every single time we do one. Oh, there are some consistent Rewards across all of them, or a structure to the Stretch Goals that some books echo, but I really don’t want any of our KSs to be seen as same old, same old.

Particularly in relation to this next point: Onyx Path Kickstarters aren’t the same creative team with every campaign. This is really important to understand because it really affects how the KS is set up, and also is a big difference between ours and a lot of the KSs out there. So far, I’ve been the Creator for all the Kickstarters Onyx has done, which provides a certain level of consistency to the set-up and communication, and then we have all sorts of different creators engaged because its their project that we are KSing. But, that means that the creators of the project (for example, Joltin’ Justin Achilli and his writing team and Mirthful Mike Chaney and his artists for the upcoming V20 Anarchs Unbound KS) aren’t the Creators of the KS. And the way Onyx is all about working with a lot of creative folks who have demanding day jobs, like Justin, means that there’s really no way they could be running a KS- it just takes an enormous amount of time and energy to run one. So we try and make up for that by first working hand-in-glove with the developers of the project to present Rewards and Stretch Goals that they are comfortable with and feel they can deliver on. Very often during a KS, the delay to put up the next Stretch Goal or add a Reward is because I’m trying to get a consensus on whether the new thing that the backers are asking for is OK with the creative team. (And guess what? Many times, just because our Stretch Goal amount was just passed doesn’t mean that the developer is finished with their day job meeting, or back from taking their kids to the park.)

We also meet ahead of the KS’s launch and discuss who can do what when during the length of the KS. Our current method of division of labor is to have the developer or development team communicating through the Comments section and me through the direct “contact me” emails while we both work on a series of Updates ahead of time- although we are willing to dive in on new or different Updates depending on how the KS progresses. Again, trying to enable the best kind of dialogue between the creators and the backers means being sensitive to not only the creative team’s schedule but also their comfort level. Every team works differently, and not all creators want, or can even create well with, direct communication all the time about their creations. Yet, that sort of dialogue between backers and creators has been proven, at least to me, to be vital to a fulfilling and successful KS, so we push for the kinds of communication that the creators feel they can commit to. Sometimes this works as expected, sometimes life events change how much interaction is possible, sometimes the creative team is overwhelmed and they back off, and sometimes the community interaction is so exciting that we get more than the creators thought they could give. Every KS is different.

Another big difference between Onyx Path‘s use of Kickstarter  and other KSs is that we have thus far not used it to fund the creation of a book, but rather we have used it to fund the process of creating Deluxe editions of that book, or, in the case of Mummy: The Curse, a traditionally printed with upgraded features edition. (Which is not to say we won’t try funding a whole project further down the line). How that Deluxe KS relates to the regular model of PDF/PoD availability on DTRPG is something we are also experimenting with, particularly if the KS itself adds to the original project in terms of upgrades or extra sections or chapters or more art. But because it is a process of creation of a Deluxe version that the KS is funding, we’re not tying the Deluxe delivery to the PDF/PoD availability. Our KSs, so far, are not about early delivery of the material to the backers before the “regular fans”, they are about the exclusive delivery of the Deluxe version to the backers. This is different than some other KSs out there, so it pays to read all KSs carefully to see what you’re getting into. Case in point: we are offering Storyteller Screens with our KSs now because so many backers asked for them, and they are described multiple times on every KS as being 3-panel and printed both sides on heavy stock. (Actually the heaviest board the printer can use without moving to a totally different and vastly more expensive process). Despite this description, I have had a couple of messages from backers disappointed in the screen because it doesn’t match the 4-panel deluxe screens we did for VtM Revised. It was never described as leatherette covered, or even as matching V20 or the older screens, or as 4 panel, so I really have nothing I can tell these folks. But it points out the important advice of making sure to read the whole KS text- and particularly the description of the Reward you just pledged for.

We are also really careful about what we add on to the project beyond the creation of a Deluxe edition, and I look at each possible new project, added feature to the book, or different kind of product offered by Rewards or Stretch Goals with a jaundiced eye. First off, Onyx creates worlds, and is specifically set up to deliver those worlds via books and electronic “books” and has incredibly experienced and creative folks who know how to do that. Our processes are designed to create the highest quality projects in those areas. We are not jewelry or dice manufacturers, so anything we might offer for a Kickstarter like a Clan-pin, or Werewolf Dice, would be outside the methodology of what we all know how to do. And that means that other methods, approval processes, logistics in shipping, etc, would come into the mix. We are clearly still mastering getting our Deluxe books done well and within a process we can predict and time, so adding even more confusion to that mix would be bad. Even though I know that these extra things can drive backers into just a frenzy of excitement, I move very slowly into offering extras unless we are working with folks who know how to deliver a finished project almost entirely on their own. For example, the EX3 Canvas map is being printed by a company whose work I’ve seen before, and it is a product that can be fit into standard shipping packaging with a minimum of chances for damage, screw-ups, or crazy fees.

For the additional text or other upgrades to the books themselves, or new projects like Mummy‘s Necropolis: DC, that come out of Stretch Goals we are equally careful about whether the creative team can get to all the extra work, and whether those projects fit into where the line is headed. Again, this involves working with the developers in particular as to what they are comfortable with. I try not to drop projects onto a creative team just because backers, or I, think it would be cool. We have to temper the needs of the project with the needs of the KS and what will keep backers interested and talking about the experience in positive ways. There is no one size fits all for these sorts of things. Generally, I’ve found that a mix of extra stuff for the Deluxe book itself combined with other material outside the book as added projects works really well in giving the widest range of extras that let every backer know that the their involvement has improved both the book and the overall project.

Then we have the reality of Stretch Goals, in that they aren’t provided with “free money” once we pass the Funding Goal, and in fact must be funded with whatever money remains after the amount to create and ship the Deluxe is taken out of the vast majority of pledges. This is yet another difference in our Kickstarters (and most RPG KSs as a whole) as opposed to say the computer game industry. We still have printing and shipping to factor into most pledges. So that is factored in to how we set up the Stretch Goals and where we place them as we go along. I don’t want another final goal that’s really cool not get funded like in Mummy‘s KS- that’s just disappointing for everyone. We also sometimes don’t think of a “Stretchie”, a term I’ve used but everyone else seems to hate, until it is discussed by backers during the KS, and I think staying flexible enough to include just such a backer identified extra is one of the great parts of Kickstarter. Which is one of the reasons we have “hidden” Stretch Goals instead of having them pre-listed- I like timing and setting up the Stretch Goals in response to backer participation. Plus, it’s just fun to find out what the next ones are after the current one is achieved.

Hopefully, that’s a good start on our KS thinking- obviously it’s important enough that even this wall of words is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what could be said about KS and our methods with it, but enough for now! On to the Updates-

Yes, These Updates Right Here:

– Blood and Smoke: The Strix Chronicle (VtR) In Editing. Art is all contracted. Mirthful Mike has contracted several new artists, including a couple from IlluxCon.

– Mummy the Curse Deluxe and Screen: Books and Screens are all shipped out- as a backer, check the last Backer Update from KS as to when you should worry about getting your copies if you haven’t yet. The MtC Ready Made Characters Pack is in for approvals from CCP. Cursed Necropolis DC is being red-lined by CAS and then back for second drafts from the writers.

– Exalted 3rd Edition:  While John hunkers down to rewrite the Charms chapter, the rest of the team is working on a couple of EX3 chapters that continue to be finalized for Editing: The Awareness Charms are actually much broader and useful than previous versions and the Dawn Caste Charms are getting wrapped up. Martial Arts and Evocations are almost completely written but still need review by the Devs. Both  EX3 novels as well as Zub’s EX3 Comic are in progress in fact we were just looking at a cover idea, and the EX3 Music Suites are being scoped out.

– V20 Hunters Hunted 2:  Deluxe is being assembled. PoD and PDF versions on sale at DTRPG. This is another book that really benefited from the PDF reviews that our community had a chance to let us know about. HH2 Fiction Anthology text is in editing.

– V20 Anarchs Unbound is in layout and we are prepping for its Kickstarter- just got Justin’s completed video for this.

– Deluxe Werewolf 20th Anniversary Edition: Regular Deluxe is being laser cut. Heavy Metal Deluxe is being worked up now as a prototype with their new press- I have not yet seen one though. Mike Lee is submitting chapters of the W20 “Houses of the Moon” novel to Bill for dev review.  The Storyteller Screen files are done and ready for W20. Bill has theW20 Anthology stories in layout.  Jess Hartley has submitted the White Howlers Tribe Book to Stew Wilson for development notes,  and the W20 Cookbook is almost done in editing

Deluxe Mage the Ascension 20th Anniversary Edition has Phil Brucato mostly developing now like a maniac and most of the book has been written and we are prepping an editor for this big ol’ thing. Check out our continuing M20 art blog by Mirthful Mike Chaney: http://theonyxpath.com/mirthful-mikes-art-blog-mage-20th-anniversary-preview-1/

– W20 Changing Breeds  Kickstarter expanded material has been put into the new layout and we are still waiting for CCP approval on the new stuff, and for the opening comic, and the Changing Breeds Fiction Anthology is being contracted by developer Jess Hartley.

– W20 Rage Across the World: In layout.

– Guildhalls of the Deathless (MtC) the PDF is live on DTRPG. There is a thread on the Mummy forum on the WW Forums for any mistakes or tweaks you want to suggest before we correct the PDF and create the PoD file.

– Conventionbook: Void Engineers (cMtA) is being final proofed.

– W20 Book of the Wyrm is in editing.

– V20 Rites of the Blood: is in editing, being art directed.

– Under the Darkening Sky (classic Dark Ages): In editing.

– Trinity Continuum:   We now have a whopping big Aeon outline and a Trinity Continuum Core Book outline and writers are writing. Talking systems with the gang.

 Scion: Joe’s team is hammering systems- big time. Reviewing the first system doc this week- need combat example right now. Right now.

– Demon: The Descent: In layout. Demon Quickstart PDF is free on DTRPG and the PoD version is Now LIVE.

– Hunter: The Something About Monsters: Writers are writing. Many first drafts are getting red-lined.

– nWoD: Dark Eras: Writers are writing.

– V20 Dark Ages: Scribes are scribing.

– DtD Players Guide: Flowers Of Hell?: Being written in Berlin, 1957.

Reason to Drink: Fall is in the air.

  39 comments for “Eddy’s Turkey Trip Continues

  1. IanW
    October 8, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    Also, as an FYI: this site will be down for a couple of days for routine maintenance- we’ll be tweaking a few things as well as prepping for a new Big Announcement.

    By “this site,” Rich means TheOnyxPath.com, not WhiteWolfBlogs.com.

  2. richt
    October 8, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    Ian: fixed

    • IanW
      October 8, 2013 at 5:15 pm

      Thanks, Rich. 😀

  3. RCGR
    October 8, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    Hey, Richt, you mentioned DTRPG shelves, and I noticed the rate of cWoD PDF updating is slowing down a bit these days. Any news from DTRPG crew?

    I purchased most of Masquerade and Dark Ages lines, and almost all of them received a decedent OEF treatment, or (when OEF not possible) a decedent scanning, but some still need updating (better scanning).

    • richt
      October 9, 2013 at 9:31 am

      DTRPG is still working on upgrading and just generally getting some missing books up. Pretty sure at this point that the amount of work in order to prepare each book has increased a great deal, though, as we’re in the area of books that have missing files, are hard to obtain for new scans, etc.

  4. Yossarian
    October 8, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    If it means anything, my Mummy ST screen was exactly as advertised (and very handsome; I look forward to the V20 one when HH2 ships). It seems like it would be common sense to read the KS description thoroughly, if you’re going to put money into it. Especially if you’re the type of person inclined to write pissy letters…

    Also, yay Void Engineers!

    • richt
      October 9, 2013 at 9:33 am

      Thanks!

  5. Phi
    October 8, 2013 at 10:24 pm

    Hey that’s really cool, it was an interesting read to see what goes into a KS. Actually it’s really enlightening to see a abridged version of the process. I do admire my Deluxe Mummy book and would be proud to donate to another KS. I plan to do just that. I was pretty skeptical at Onyx Path to the WoD that I’ve grown to adore but seeing what you guys have done with it has reinvigorated my passion.
    Cheers!

    • richt
      October 9, 2013 at 9:34 am

      Glad to hear we won you over! 😉

  6. Shaoken
    October 9, 2013 at 2:23 am

    So just to check, with the Changing Breeds PDF, the openning comic isn’t done yet or it hasn’t been fit into layout/approved yet? I’m happy to wait until it’s done right but my players are getting a bit antsy.

    • richt
      October 9, 2013 at 9:36 am

      It’s being worked on by John Bridges. If John has it ready so that we can send the PDF to backers in October as we originally intended, then all is good. If he needs more time, I think we’ll probably send the PDF out to backers without the comic and then update the PDF when the comic is ready.

  7. Ian
    October 9, 2013 at 3:57 am

    Hey Rich, just wanted to double check. Is the game plan for W20 to still have both leather and metal editions shipped out the same time or is there a possibility of the leather editions being shipped early? I don’t mean to hound, but my gaming group is getting restless. Thanks.

    • richt
      October 9, 2013 at 9:37 am

      Game plan, yes. Still have to hear from the printers what will happen when. There are a lot fewer HMEs to get done than the regular Deluxes, so everything could come together at once and be ready to ship out together.

      • Torakhan
        October 10, 2013 at 8:46 am

        As an HME purchaser, I would not want the standard Deluxe Edition folks to have to wait because of a delay on the HME.

        • richt
          October 10, 2013 at 12:13 pm

          As someone who needs shipping to work smoothly, I have to consider whether a separate ship out makes sense. Remember that a lot of pledges added on HMEs or visa versa. Logistically that complicates things.

  8. Phil
    October 9, 2013 at 7:00 am

    For me, the best Kickstarter was probably Mummy (which, btw, I just got the book in Sweden and am very excited about!). It walked the fine line of sprucing up the book and using that money for more material. I left that one so satisfied and have afterwards had a little bit of disappointment with the other Kickstarters because they haven’t been as willing to launch new material with the extra money.

    Why is new material important to me? Well, I think getting new material makes supporting a Kickstarter feel special. I am not just ‘pre-ordering’ a special version of the book, but I’m also being rewarded for doing so by getting digital access to later material (for example). Then the money I put down (+$140 for international shipping—I know this isn’t your fault, it’s the USPS but.. ugh) feels more like a ‘deal’ and/or reward than a pretty expensive pre-order of a book that I think would be neat to have.

    I like the Kickstarter process. Unlike a lot of people, I don’t care even remotely about waiting (I’m busy anyway), and I enjoy reading the updates and being involved. But thinking about why I like new material that makes me think that I maybe have a bit of an entitlement complex around Kickstarters, since I’m investing in a product that I’m a fan of in an active way versus other kinds of consumers… I think it strokes my ego that I’m not only getting a thing I want, but I’m also actively helping OPP produce beautiful, quality products for die-hard/luddite fans, in addition to the digital and PoD stuff. And so maybe the nice book is less the reward than seeing it all come to fruition and feeling ‘rewarded’ for doing so by getting cool, unexpected stuff (like new material).

    Huh.

    • richt
      October 9, 2013 at 9:44 am

      I’m assuming you didn’t participate in Exalted 3rd’s KS, then. We produced more extra projects than we even believed possible. The real difference right now is that core books like Mummy or EX3 or the upcoming Demon: the Descent are really open for all the extra projects that could be done, and generally raise enough extra backing that entire extra books are possible. Supplements like Hunters Hunted 2 or Changing Breeds generally are not thematically easy to derive new projects from, particularly when most of our feedback from backers is to upgrade the book they are in the process of backing. We get most of our excitement from those upgrades or added sections, and then manage a fiction anthology or other small project.

      So the reward, beyond the book itself, is an extra chapter, for example, rather than a discrete new book. Smaller scale, perhaps, but the same payoff of there being something new that wouldn’t have happened with backer support.

      • Phil
        October 9, 2013 at 12:17 pm

        It’s true. I’m not an Exalted fan (I’ve never played and don’t know anyone who does), so I didn’t really pay attention to that one.

        Also, I understand the constraints you guys are under and what I didn’t say was that I appreciate you writing about the whole process, because it helps to explain why the different Kickstarters produce different stretch goals. I wasn’t complaining so much as reflecting on why certain kinds of stretch goals really excite me and why other ones don’t. Just as a matter of personal preference: I’m a big fan of old PDFs as a bonus and of new material that backers will receive. I’m less of a fan of add-ons, because I usually back at the highest level I’m comfortable with the first time around (plus, international shipping is so high that any increase in that tends to make things even more unrealistic).

        • richt
          October 10, 2013 at 12:14 pm

          @Phil: I never thought your were complaining. I appreciate your personal viewpoint on what works and what doesn’t for you during a KS. Thanks for that!

      • Eolirin
        October 10, 2013 at 12:07 pm

        As someone who did participate in Ex3’s kickstarter, I have to say, I haven’t been terribly happy in how it’s been handled thus far. Having a big info dump from a dev team that is generally very closed during the Kickstarter period, generating some significant excitement about the project, and then having near complete silence afterwards doesn’t feel very good. Getting super hyped up while money is being collected and then having months of almost no info after said money has been given out is kind of dispiriting; while I *know* there wasn’t anything deliberate about it, it still generates the feeling that the dev team was willing to go out and finally start sharing significant information only while they were collecting money.

        If a team isn’t really willing or able to communicate terribly much about what they’re doing, it would be better, at least from my perspective, to hold back the Kickstarter until the completion of the book, minus any stretch goal additions, so that the hype from the Kickstarter can move into hype for the book being released instead getting wiped out by months of waiting around with nothing to get excited about.

        • richt
          October 10, 2013 at 12:21 pm

          I’m sorry you feel that way, but can totally understand that it really is a let down after all the month-long excitement. Basically, beyond funding for the Deluxe, we internally needed the KS then to help refine the thinking and effort and to totally define just what we were doing with the many possible other products we “could” do, but didn’t know we should do, until the KS. The thing to bear in mind was that all that month-long hoopla and attention meant that the Devs had no time to push the actual writing, and now afterwards we really need to push forward and concentrate on the book. There will be more excerpts once everything gets to editing, but we’re very much in the heads-down and finish it phase right now.

        • IanW
          October 14, 2013 at 3:17 am

          To elaborate on Rich’s statement, Holden recently said — I think it was on RPGnet — that during the Kickstarter, forward progress on Ex3 pretty much ground to a halt. They spent most of their time communicating with backers, assembling previews, and organizing with Rich, and had little to no time to actually do any real writing.

          So while I appreciate that you want a similar amount of communication now that the KS is over, I’m sure you’d like the book to be finished as soon as possible.

  9. October 9, 2013 at 11:15 am

    I think Kickstarter is showing itself it be a great way to fund exactly the kind of thing that Onyx Path has been doing while being somewhat less successful with other things. Fingers crossed that it continues to be so. I look forward to the end of the frontier days when crowd funding is considered a more normal marketplace.
    Got my copy of Mummy. I suppose the next thing I need to wait for is the Demon kick-off, then Blood & Smoke and Exalted.

    • richt
      October 10, 2013 at 12:23 pm

      Yes, a few of my friends in other types of creative endeavors have had much more mixed results than Onyx has had so far. It is still pretty wild and wooly out there in KS land.

  10. Joe B.
    October 9, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    I am very, very happy with the results of the Mummy Deluxe edition. While I know that several delays happened, the final product is stunning. I admit I would have preferred a screen similar to the Requiem or Forsaken screens, but I am nontheless happy to have a well made, durable and very colorful ST screen for Mummy. Additionally, I absolutely love the idea of releasing a pdf first on drivethrough before offering it conjointly as POD because it allows for corrections and edits to happen before committing to a finished printed product. You guys are doing a great job and I will continue to support your KS projects.

    • richt
      October 10, 2013 at 12:23 pm

      Thanks, Joe!

  11. Eolirin
    October 10, 2013 at 1:23 am

    Speaking of non-book related extras, now that DriveThruCards is a thing, is there any chance of seeing reprints of both the Mage tarot decks?

    • PookaKnight
      October 10, 2013 at 10:43 am

      I would *love* to see the old White Wolf CCGs go up on DriveThruCards! It would be neat to see Vampire: The Eternal Struggle, Rage, and Arcadia back in print.

    • richt
      October 10, 2013 at 12:25 pm

      We have several ideas of what we can do with “Cards on Demand”.

      • Scutarii
        October 11, 2013 at 3:43 am

        Some kind of LCG format thing would rock. Less interested in the constant cycling out of product you get with CCGs. Plus, from an external point of view, an LCG seems simpler to control for…

  12. Zylo-Kills-The-Foe
    October 10, 2013 at 4:51 am

    It’s good to hear that people have been getting their Mummy books and are happy with them, I was never a mummy guy so I didn’t get in on that.

    I had been planning to ask earlier but things have been pretty hectic here as of late; are there any plans for the anniversary of the Werewolf 20 Kickstarter launching? I mean I guess not but I thought doing ‘something’ might be good for morale.

    Additionally things have been very quiet over on the W20 blog (the last update being about the status of the changing breeds Kickstarter), should we be expecting updates or should we assume we’ve seen the end of that? I figure I’d ask rather than write it off and miss something important.

    Thanks Rich.

    • richt
      October 10, 2013 at 12:26 pm

      Pretty sure Stew will be availing himself of the W20 blog in the weeks to come. I’m not sure “celebrating” how long W20 has taken so far is the right thing to do, but I take your point. 🙂

      • Simon
        October 11, 2013 at 12:08 am

        Speaking for myself, I would very much like to celebrate the anniversary by getting my book 😛

    • Neall
      October 10, 2013 at 3:03 pm

      Even if you weren’t a tremendous fan of Mummy: the Resurrection or the two supplements describing the Amenti that came before it, the Curse is a very different and unique take on Mummy. They’re definitely a very different WoD experience!

  13. Yiodan
    October 10, 2013 at 8:07 am

    Thanks for the input Richt. Sad to see we’re not going to have that Scion peek but i’m sure it’s for the best!

    Quick question about Mummy. I’m about halfway through and I wanted to know if it was still possible to send comments the devs way for pdf changes? Or possibly just for the chance to aska few questions?

    • richt
      October 10, 2013 at 12:27 pm

      You should be able to post a few things on the Mummy FB page where Colin tends to check in a fair bit, or the forums here.

      • Yiodan
        October 10, 2013 at 2:47 pm

        Will do once I’m done reading and I can be sure of the relevance of my comments. Thanks!

  14. Yiodan
    October 10, 2013 at 8:11 am

    Oh and by the way. I’m truly enjoying it so far. I’m now torn between my desire to start a technocrate LARP and a Cultist LARP. And that’s a great problem to have 🙂

    • richt
      October 10, 2013 at 12:28 pm

      Awesome!

Comments are closed.